Scores of animals rescued from the Bloemfontein Zoo have been transferred to game reserves in the Free State, according to the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea).The animals were removed from the facility after they were found to be starving to death at the zoo, which for years had been managed by the cash-strapped Mangaung Metro Municipality. The recent shocking discovery led to permanent closure by the department. Grave concerns had been expressed by the public and various organisations, which include the society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), as well as political parties. Animals were removed on 6 March. Well-known for its wide collection of primates, the 15 ha Bloemfontein Zoo was home to at least 65 mammal species and a large range of birds. It was also home to the Big Five: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo. “Working with the SPCA, in the best interest and the welfare of the animals, Destea removed animals from the Bloemfontein Zoo to alternative places where they are being cared for,” said Kgotso Tau, spokesperson for the department. “These animals are kept at qualified and complying game reserves. “This action was taken in terms of available laws or regulations governing the protection and conservation of wildlife in the Free State.”The municipality’s failure to care for the animals came to light last year after an unannounced inspection in October by the Green Scorpions, the environmental management inspectors wing of the department. The Bloemfontein Zoo was established in 1906.